Victorian Era and Flowers

One of my favorite features of this blog is it shows some of the top searches on the dashboard. It always inspires me to know what other people are wanting to learn. It peaks my curiosity too, and usually leads me to something very, very cool. I love questions…each one is a teaching opportunity or at least a learning opportunity.

One search term caught my attention. “Rose Scent in the Victorian Era”.  Although plants and their oils have been used for both healing and scent since ancient times, it was during the late 19th century that cosmetic perfume as we know it was first mass produced. Development of synthetic (chemical) perfume and therapeutic Aromatherapy both stemmed from that new industry. Synthetics allowed perfume to be produced cheaply and distributed widely (we won’t talk about petroleum by-products and health considerations here – that’s for another post). That same research and development led to the re-discovery of natural oil’s healing properties in a perfumery lab in the 1930s, with Gatefosse’s groundbreaking work being published in 1937.

The Victorian Era is better known for its romance, and the “language of flowers”. Flowers are still chosen because of the meanings given to them during that time. There are as many meanings as there are flowers; positive, negative and everything in-between. The symbolism even includes some leafy plants and tree leaves. A few examples include:

Daisy – innocence

Pink Carnation – I will never forget you

Fern – a sign of sincerity

Holly – a happy home

Oak leaves – bravery

Olive branch – peace

violet (blue) – faithfulness

Water Lily – Eloquence & purity of heart

Roses are so esteemed in this tradition, each color has it’s own special connotation, even buds convey a different message than a full bloom…

Peach or coral rose – congratulations

Red rosebud – purity

Red rose – love

Pink rosebud -new love

Dark pink rose – thank you

Pink rose – friendship

If you would like to use the meaning of flowers, has some excellent guidelines about how to best get the meaning across plus a large list of flower meanings. Victorian flowers may not have had much to do with aromatherapy but their smell, and message, was just as sweet.